Barber Preview

As you read this, we are on our way to Birmingham. Actually, there’s a slight change this year. Susan has been working in Alabama all week, so I will be driving down alone and meeting her at the track. The good thing about traveling alone means that when I plan to leave at 6:00, I can actually leave at 6:00 instead of 7:45. Hopefully, she won’t read what I just wrote.

This will be our seventh Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama. We’ve been to every race here since the inception of the event in 2010. We also went there when IndyCar held its non-oval Spring Training in 2009, when Will Power was driving the Marlboro colors for Helio Castroneves, who was still dealing with his tax issues.

Will Power

Everyone who hasn’t been to Barber Motorsports Park laughs when they hear it described as a gorgeous facility. If they would ever come here, they would stop laughing. Did you see The Masters a couple of weeks ago? That manicured setting is very similar to what we’ll be seeing this weekend.

We love going to Barber. It is so laid back it sometimes doesn’t seem like an IndyCar event. It is almost surreal to be standing in a grove of pine trees on the back stretch and watch the cars zoom by. There are free trams to transport you all around the track. The volunteers are plentiful and extra-friendly. The food and concessions are all good. And if you have some time to kill, you can always check out the Barber Museum, home of the world’s largest collection of vintage motorcycles as well as Lotus race cars and other types of racing craft as well.

The sister car to Mario Andretti’s 1969 Lotus that he destroyed in practice is there. The destruction of that car forced the Andy Granatelli team to wheel out the old Brawner Hawk, which carried Mario to his only Indianapolis 500 win that same year.

The drivers seem to love going to Barber, due to the slower lifestyle. Last year after Friday’s practice, we went to nearby Rusty’s BBQ to dine. Shortly after we sat down among many of the crews and support people, in walks Scott Dixon, his wife Emma and their two young children. They sat about two tables over from us. No one bothered them and they got to have a nice family dinner. By the way, Dixon went up to the counter himself and ordered, while Emma tended to the kids.

As usual, we will be posting here regularly throughout the weekend. I’ll report on what’s going on in the garage area and on the track. Susan will be posting about some of the unique things going on around the track. We will be posting photos here throughout the weekend. We will also be posting more instantaneous photos on Twitter. Follow me at @Oilpressureblog or Susan at @MrsOilpressure to keep with us throughout the weekend.

I hesitate to even mention this, but there is a possibility that my friend and cohort from One Take Only, John McLallen, may be on the grounds on Saturday. If he shows up, we may do an impromptu episode on location. If we really get daring, we could even do a live episode via Periscope, but don’t hold your breath on that one.

As I mentioned on Wednesday, several drivers need to pull themselves out of whatever funk they are in. I look for at least three of those drivers to all have a big weekend, but only one can win. The three that I think will shine are Will Power, Graham Rahal and last year’s winner Josef Newgarden. Who will win? The winner in 2011 and 2012 – Will Power, which should put him within striking distance of his rivals at the top, heading into the month of May.

Anyway, that’s going to wrap it up for now. I plan on being at the track and settled into the media center before 10:00 am central time, so please check back for updates today and throughout the entire weekend. It should be fun.

George Phillips

9 Responses to “Barber Preview”

  1. Thanks George…
    Enjoy, wish I could get up thT way myself…

  2. That Marlboro Penske was a good looking car….

  3. Mike Silver Says:

    Safe trip George. See you at he track.

  4. Heading to Barber for our 4th time from Louisville. We are bringing our 2 kids, 2 and 4 and my parents who have never been to Barber before. We are all going to pile into one truck. George if I see you I will introduce myself. Have a good time, the weather looks likes it is going to be good 80’s and no rain.

    I am kind of hoping Joseph Newgarden has a good weekend as well as Will Power. Then there is Scott Dixon…..

  5. Ron Ford Says:

    That Marlboro Penski was indeed a good looking car. I have a photo of two of them side by side in turn 4 at Milwaukee that is a favorite of mine. Thanks for once again weaving the Dixons into your narrative. Looking forward to photos of same. Hopefully you can meet our friend from Louisville.

  6. billytheskink Says:

    Safe travels, George.

    For those who haven’t been to Barber, I can vouch for George’s description. Great facility and a great event. I hope to make it back in the not-too-distant future.

  7. DZ-groundedeffects Says:

    In some ways I wish Indycar would be more popular that guys like Dixon would have a hard time not being recognized/bothered in public, yet there’s also something quite fair and familial about the way it is now. Maybe as I age, and my family grows up, I also see them more as people, less as “racing heroes”.

    We had a similar experience in 2012 in MKE, eating at the Outback attached to the hotel we stayed, and where several teams also stayed. As we walked in to be seated, I could see our server taking us past some Penske-shirt-clad crew and a quiet, two-person table with Ryan Briscoe and Nicole.

    With my 8 year old son in front of me, we walked past the Briscoes and my son’s eyes got big as saucers as he walked by and ‘radar-locked’ on Ryan. Ryan smiled nicely and said “hello” then looked at me. I had a silly grin on my face because I could see it all unfolding before it happened. He looked up I and gave him a grateful nod.

    I imagine RB smiling hearing my son exclaim as we walked past, “DAD! that’s Ryan Briscoe!” “Yes it is, buddy.”

    I did keep and eye out and two other drivers came in that night, but we enjoyed our family time, just as they were able to. I am actually glad for the Indycar drivers who are more able to do that in relative comparison to other athletes or disciplines. It makes me appreciate them more as people and not some gilded ‘star’.

    • Waitwaitwait. . .you saw Ryan Briscoe – who’s actually from the land down under, where beer does flow and men chunder – eating at an *Outback Steakhouse*???

  8. George, you will have to go on without me this time. Have a great trip and I’ll keep up with you through your posts here at Oilpressure.

Leave a Reply to Ben Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: